Minnesota Vikings veteran Adam Theilen has a chance to prove his doubters wrong again.
The practice squad turned All-Pro wide receiver turns 30 in August, an age where many NFL wideouts begin their decline. Thielen didn’t miss a game in his NFL career until last season when he suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss six games.
If Thielen can overcome his injury in 2020 and replicate his past numbers as a starter, he could join a list of just 10 players who have surpassed 1,000 receiving yards at the age of 30 or older since 2015. Oddsmakers have Theilen’s over-under in receiving yards set at 1,100.5, a bet Sports Illustrated’s Frankie Taddeo would take.
Although most sports bettors are down on Thielen this year, Taddeo said Thielen has potential to bounce back from his injury-plagued 2019 season:
Back in May, Thielen’s receiving number stood at 1,199.5. However, following consistent steam on the under the oddsmakers were forced to adjust this number lower by 99 yards. Despite the run-heavy offensive philosophy, I believe there is both value in fantasy football in investing in Adam Thielen as a low-end WR1 / high WR2 for a player primed for a rebound in 2020 as well as going over a projection that offers more value at the lower number.
Thielen surpassing 1,000 receiving yards at 30 years old this season would put him with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson, who all accomplished the feat in their 30s as well.
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Adam Thielen Will Have to Thrive Outside
Stefon Diggs’ departure to the Buffalo Bills leaves the Vikings without its best threat to break the game open. Diggs accounted for 20 plays of 20 or more yards last season, while Theilen and running back Dalvin Cook followed with eight each.
While Diggs found his pay dirt deep, Thielen often saw more success in the slot, tallying 10 touchdowns in the slot over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said rookie Justin Jefferson would line up in the slot, and while there are no absolutes with the versatility both receivers offer, Thielen will be called on to fill more of Diggs’ deep role than Jefferson will in his first year.
Thielen’s already embracing his role as a leader in working with several Vikings wideouts in the offseason. Questions remain if he’ll be able to get the same separation on deep routes coming off an injury, but his overtime-catch in the NFC Wild Card round against the New Orleans Saints is some evidence Thielen still has plenty left in the tank.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire